Ted Cruz and Republican Love for Authority

Read Scott Horton's new book Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan

 

As midterms draw near Ted Cruz has ramped up his political attacks on his Democrat opponent.  One attack on Twitter was particularly interesting.  In a bizarre tweet, Cruz posted a video of Beto O’Rourke speaking in front of a predominately black church about the murder of Botham Jean.  As most will already know, Botham Jean was shot and killed in his own apartment by an off-duty police officer.  O’Rourke’s message was that it was an injustice for an unarmed black man to be shot in his own home while he was doing nothing illegal.  Just what was Cruz’s intent with this tweet?

Regardless of how you feel about the rest of O’Rourke’s political views, his statements on the murder of Jean are spot on.  The murder of an unarmed citizen in their own home by law enforcement should be horrifying for everyone, especially those that consider themselves proponents of freedom and limited government.  Why would anybody take issue with O’Rourke’s sentiment on this issue?  Perhaps Cruz was demonstrating dog-whistle politics and playing to the identity politics that is rampant in today’s Republican party, or maybe he was displaying a dominant theme among Republicans, the love of authority.

Republicans claim to be proponents of limited government and claim to want accountability in government, yet they push back against investigating and firing bad officers.  They claim to uphold the Constitution, yet they defend officers that violate the Fourth Amendment.  Cruz’s tweet is a perfect example of these contradictions.  A man who claims to be a constitutional conservative, yet he appears to be siding with an officer that deprived a man of his constitutional rights and ultimately his life.  A supposed proponent of limited government who sides with an agent of the government that invaded a private home and murdered the lawful occupant.  What Cruz claims to be and what he really is are two very different things.

Ted Cruz isn’t alone in his blind loyalty to authority.  Whenever there’s publicized police shooting the police defenders come out and tell you how why the shooting was justified and why police have it so bad.  One of their main arguments is that the police have a dangerous job.  Apparently, you’re allowed to take the life of an unarmed person if you have a dangerous job, never mind the fact that law enforcement isn’t even in the top ten most dangerous jobs in America.  If someone criticizes excessive force or expresses the need for accountability among law enforcement, they’re branded as being “anti-cop”.  Desiring accountability among law enforcement isn’t anti-cop, it’s anti-bad cop.  If you want a doctor to be held accountable for malpractice nobody accuses you of being “anti-doctor” but apparently police are in an untouchable group, one that must be protected from criticism.  Now, police are even being treated as a protected class.  In May, the United States House of Representatives passed the Protect and Serve Act, which would make an assault on a police officer a federal hate crime.  Republicans, who are usually critical of hate crime laws, voted 220 to 11 in favor of the bill.  It should be noted that not all Republicans showed this same adoration for authority, the libertarian-leaning Liberty Caucus opposed the bill.

Cruz is pushing an authoritarian agenda in the culture war.  He’s painting himself as pro-cop and his opponent as pro-crime.  His message is spurious as an authoritarian police state isn’t required to cut down on crime.  Questioning authority and holding law enforcement accountable is should be the duty of all Americans.  Cruz has gone with this same line of attacks several times and has attacked O’Rourke’s comparisons of Jim Crow policies and the criminal justice system.  When you look at police shooting statistics and racial disparities in prison sentencing, O’Rourke has a valid point.  As I already stated, you don’t need to agree with the Beto O’Rourke on everything to agree with him on criminal justice.  On criminal justice O’Rourke is right and Ted Cruz is dead wrong.  Cruz and those like him have apparently lost their appetites for liberty and developed a taste for boot polish.

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Read Scott Horton's new book Fool's Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan